How often have you dreamt about using a cell phone with double or triple the traditional battery life or driving away in an electric car for over 500 miles? We all face the inevitable problem of charging batteries—be it for mobile phones, electric cars or the like, but technology hasn’t yet come out with any convincing answers. However, on the brighter side, significant progress has been made with lithium-ion based batteries—which not only promises to boost power capacity, but also extend battery life.
Many new smartphones already sport batteries with capacity exceeding 3,000 mAh. However, the downside to extra capacity is that it takes longer to charge your battery—at times even exceeding three hours. Changes also need to be made to the form factors in these phones as batteries with a higher capacity tend to be heavy and bulky.
Now researchers at Stanford University have designed a battery based on a pure lithium anode, which has the potential to increase existing capacity by over 400%. Called the ‘Holy Grail’ of battery technology, researchers claim it doesn’t expand and dramatically improves performance—retaining 99% charge efficiency even after 150 cycles. Resultantly, batteries could become smaller—for example, half the size of a current battery, but with twice the capacity—allowing for thinner, longer lasting devices.
A company working on cutting-edge research in this area also claims to have a revolutionary answer to your battery woes. Its products allow you to work with existing technology—cutting charging time by up to 75% and also increasing a battery’s overall lifespan. The technology is non-intrusive and is likely to be included in phones from all the big manufacturers by 2015.
There is also a lot of buzz around what researchers describe as “rechargeable fuel”—electrodes in liquid form. These can be either recharged like conventional batteries or replaced by pumping in new fuel like gasoline. This could theoretically allow an electric car to travel 500 miles on a charge, five times farther than what most electric vehicles do now. Also, replacing them at a fueling station would take just a few minutes as opposed to an hour for a full charge in even the fastest charging stations for conventional batteries.
Batteries using liquid electrodes would also be safer than conventional ones. Positive and negative electrode materials would be stored in separate tanks, rather than inside the same battery cell as found in the traditional approach. This could prevent short circuits and overheating that can cause lithium-ion batteries to catch fire.
Yet switching over to another technology could result in installing new infrastructure, which can be expensive. However, with power hungry applications and devices surrounding us, conventional battery technology needs to develop further to cater to these increasing demands.
How else could evolving battery technology make a difference? Please leave your comments below.